Dev tool product-led growth examples

campaigns
github
product led growth

GitHub PR growth loop from Snyk

Beautiful growth loop that uses GitHub PRs to spread awareness even internally in the org.

And just one dev needs to sign up for the product to start it.

Works like this:

  • New user signs up for Snyk
  • they connect their GitHub account
  • Snyk finds vulnerabilities in their repositories
  • Snyk-bot creates Snyk-branded PR to fix them
  • other devs in the org see and interact with the PR
  • some follow links to check out Snyk
  • some of them sign up for Snyk

Heard about it on Lenny's podcast episode with Ben Williams (the story starts at 20:53)

... and then signed up to see the actual PR.

I really love this one as it allows you to spread inside the organization even if everything is on-prem and you never get to see it.

Those PRs are just working behind the scenes doing marketing for you.

Brilliant!

campaigns
product led growth
free tools

Hacker News search by Algolia

Algolia gets over 80% of referral traffic from a single free tool they created called Search Hacker News.

But why does it work so well for them?

Hacker News doesn't really have a native search experience.

Algolia gives devs an amazing search experience out of the box.

So folks from Algolia created their own website where you can search Hackernews... with Algolia search engine.

Of course, when you click on "Search by Algolia" you get directed to the website and can learn how to set up a similar search, which you have just used yourself.

What I love about this:

  • solves a real problem for the audience Algolia is after (many software devs read hacker news)
  • it shows rather than tells how Algolia's search works. And it works amazingly.
  • it feels almost like an extension of HackerNews with the same brand colors and design.

And looking at the results it delivers.

campaigns
product led growth

Algolia search widget in fontawesome

Classic widget PLG loop.

Algolia really crashed it with these. Here is how they made it so successful.

Some time ago I did some research on Algolia marketing looking for gems. Found quite a few as they are truly amazing at this.

One angle that is bringing a lot of traffic to their site is that classic PLG widget.

So what they did is:

  • They gave away their search box for free (under conditions)
  • They made sure that folks who do get it for free have some (ideally a lot of) overlap with their target audience.
  • People who added that search box got the branded "Powered by Algolia" version of it
  • Some devs who used the sites with the Algolia search box liked the search and went to their site
  • Some of them started using it and spreading the word further

And the sites that brought the most traffic were:

  • Hacker News search (that is not exactly the widget but a standalone site)
  • Fontawesome (site with fonts for devs)
  • Open-source documentation sites (they give away free docsearch to OS projects)
  • SteamDB (gaming site)

I love this tactic as it aligns:

  • the value their product provides
  • the value that site users get
  • the value that the company gets from developers finding out about it

Win Win Win

When you find those "Win Win Win" tactics/strategies you are golden.

campaigns
seo
product led growth
free tools

Snyk Advisor SEO growth loop

Great example of programmatic SEO from Snyk.

They created a page called snyk advisor.

It is a repository of pages about open-source packages.

Each page is created automatically out of publicly available information.

Enhances it with Snyk-generated security scans and reports.

It builds awareness for other Snyk products in the security space.

A lot of those pages rank high in google for the {package} keyword which is incredible.

And when people land on the package report page the CTAs to Snyk products push conversions.

copy
call to action
product led growth
landing page

Posthog "do not talk to us" copy

Most devs want to explore products themselves.

They want to read the docs, see examples, play with the product, or watch a video.

They don't want to hop on a demo call, especially early on in the evaluation process.

And they definitely don't want to sit through the demo to learn what your pricing is.

But there will be moments when they will want to talk to you. They will raise their hands and let you know then.

Posthog speaks to this reality with this copy beautifully:

  • They basically say "don't talk to us"
  • They give you transparent pricing on the website
  • They give you a recorded demo on the website
  • They let you try the product for free without talking to them
  • But if you want to talk to sales/support you can reach out

This is very developer-focused approach and I love it.

developer experience
product led growth

Demo page from Posthog

Devs have a love/hate relationship with "Book a demo" call to action.

Mostly hate though.

Especially if what they want is:

  • know what they will be paying for your tool
  • just see a golden path of how this thing works

Let's just say that sitting through an hour demo call with a salesperson just to get the pricing is not what most devs love to do with their time.

But there are moments in the buyer journey when devs do want to have that live session:

  • they tried it, went through the golden path, and have deeper questions
  • they know they have specific needs and are unsure/couldn't find it in your docs/website.
  • they want to customize the pricing plan to their needs.

Then, having a live session/demo is the fastest way to move forward.

@PostHog handles this dev journey reality nicely with:

  • recorded, ungated product demo -> if you want a generic demo just watch it
  • transparent pricing and a free plan -> don't need to sit through the demo to ask for price
  • if you want a custom demo or just talk to a human -> just schedule a call

This approach solves both scenarios really nicely.  

campaigns
seo
product led growth

Product-led SEO tactic from Cronjob

Great SEO tactic.

What folks from Cronitor did is:

  • For every combination of "cron +" they created a website
  • Those simple websites rank for particular keywords like "cron every 11 minutes"
  • When you land on the page you get a command you need that solves your problem
  • And you get a nice explanation of their paid tool for monitoring cron jobs

This can be used for many dev-focused tools as by definition they use commands which can be templated.

I've heard about it originally from Harry Dry over at https://marketingexamples.com/seo/cronitor

developer experience
copy
call to action
product tour
product led growth

Header CTAs from Mixpanel

Mixpanel primary CTA is to take an interactive tour.

They take you to a 30min video + a guided UI tour.

Not a signup.

That is because with products that have long time to value (like analytics, observability etc) dev will not see value in the first session.

I mean to really see value you need to see real data, real use cases. And if you were to actually test it would take weeks.

That is why many companies do demos. But demos have their own problems (and most are bad).

Interactive tools make it possible for me to explore the value without talking to anyone.

I love this option.

developer experience
product tour
product led growth

Product tour from Vercel

Interactive product tours are all the rage.

But how do you make them work for the dev audience?

How do you deal with:

  • Explain your complex dev tool value proposition quickly
  • Show both code and UI elements
  • Make devs feel great developer experience of your product
  • Push devs to the conversion action without being to pushy
  • And do all that without overwhelming

That is hard.

But Vercel somehow made it.

This is by far the best product tour I have seen so far.

What I love:

  • Great, clean navigation that lets me go back if I want to
  • They use their slogan "Develop, Preview, Ship" to reinforce the product message
  • They show both code and the UI
  • The CTAs are visible but subtle enough not to distract

This product tour is what dev tool startups will aspire to for years (or months ;) ) to come.

Mark my words.

developer experience
product tour
product led growth

Sandbox experience from Sentry.io

This is a sandbox experience folks over at Sentry.io created.

I like the navbar CTAs with a big "Documentation" button in there.

Reminds me that I can go and see it when I need it.

But I also get those conversion focused "Request a demo" and "Start a trial" for when I am ready.

On top of that I get tours and help in the sidebar for when I get stuck.

.... and the whole thing is gated behind a work email which I don't love.

But having that work email let's you nurture (and Sentry is known for awesome emails).

Plus it does help sales. If anything it is an additional signal for your account scoring models.

But if you are going to gate a sandbox, make sure to show all that value behind the modal like Sentry did.

With that I can feel compelled to type in that email.

copy
call to action
product tour
product led growth
landing page

Axiom "Playground" CTA

With infrastructure tools, it is notoriously difficult to show people the value quickly.

To really see it they would need to set up everything at their company infra, create dashboards for their use case, and so on. 

A lot of work.

That is why creating a sandbox experience is a good way of giving people a taste.

I like the way Axiom calls it a playground and says "Play with Axiom" and "Launch playground".

This copy is good because:

  • they acknowledge it isn't a real thing (but a playground)
  • it conveys that it will be interactive and you'll be able to click around
  • it makes it feel like less work and more, well play :)
developer experience
copy
call to action
product led growth
landing page

Hero section CTA from Cypress.io

That CTA.

You go straight for the install/download.

I don't know if you can go more developer-focused than that.

It sets the tone for the entire homepage.

And let's be honest (almost) nobody actually clicks that "Sign up" button in the hero section.